One in six UK adults suffering with ‘eco-anxiety’, study suggests

12th September 2023

Almost half of UK adults feel worse about the climate crisis due to government policy, with one in six suffering with ‘eco-anxiety’, new research suggests.

The study of 2,000 adults also found that the proportion experiencing eco-anxiety – defined as "a chronic fear of environmental doom" – rises to 33% among 18-34 year-olds, with 29% saying they have sought help from a counsellor, therapist or medical professional for the condition.

This comes after a period of extreme weather events this year, including record-breaking heatwaves and wildfires in Southern Europe and North America.

Overall, the study found that 51% of adults feel a sense of grief about what is happening to nature and the planet, with 48% saying that government inaction on climate issues makes them feel worse about the crisis.

“From concern about increasing wildfire and extreme flooding, to grief about declining wildlife, there are huge worries for people to contemplate about the future of our planet – at a time when living costs are also on the minds of many,” said Bevis Watts, chief executive of Triodos Bank UK, which commissioned the research.

“COP28 later this year must deliver an acceleration in action at a global level, prioritising the phasing out of fossil fuels and increasing financial support for a fair, low-carbon future. Only a truly collective effort can turn current anxiety about the future into something more hopeful.”

Of the 2,000 adults studied, 31% admitted to feeling guilty about their own emissions and environmental impact, however, around 60% said that rising food and living costs are more of an immediate worry to them.

For younger people, these conflicting pressures about the future are especially strong, with 66% saying it is hard to focus on the climate crisis when they are worried about day-to-day costs, and 65% being more concerned about rising rent and mortgage costs.

Despite this, 75% of adults say they have taken action to reduce their environmental impact, most commonly by using less single-use plastic, changing their diet to eat less meat, and switching to a renewable energy supplier.

The top five actions people are taking to feel less anxious about the climate crisis are:

  • Spending time outdoors / in nature (40%)
  • Reading positive news stories (34%)
  • Making changes to my lifestyle to be more environmentally friendly (32%)
  • Learning more about how to be more environmentally friendly (28%)
  • Taking a break from reading the news (25%)

Sana Yusef, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, commented: “It’s not surprising that so many of us – particularly young people – are feeling worried about the future and the dual threats of the cost of living and climate crisis.

“We urgently need our leaders to act on the fair, green solutions that will bring down our bills and the harmful emissions that cause climate change.”

TRANSFORM is hosting a session on ‘eco-anxiety to eco-action’ at IEMA Connect 2023 on Thursday 21 September from 10am to 11am. Register here.

Image credit: Shutterstock


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

IEMA and IFoA publish guide to climate-related financial disclosures

IEMA and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) have today published up-to-date guidance to help companies and individuals understand climate-related financial information.

22nd February 2024

Read more

Global corporations such as Amazon and Google purchased a record 46 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind energy last year, according to BloombergNEF (BNEF).

13th February 2024

Read more

Three-quarters of UK adults are concerned about the impact that climate change will have on their bills, according to polling commissioned by Positive Money.

13th February 2024

Read more

Tom Pashby reviews Anna Trompetas’s OffSet, a dystopian climate fiction novel that explores questions of morality, motherhood and class inequality

1st February 2024

Read more

Almost 100 global companies have signed up to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) First Movers Coalition, which aims to transform the supply chains across high-emitting sectors.

24th January 2024

Read more

Up to three quarters of the global building industry’s emissions could be slashed if the engineering and construction sectors embedded circular economy principles in their operations, according to a major report.

18th January 2024

Read more

Matt Tompsett looks beyond tree planting to the pros and cons of land and sea-based carbon sequestration projects.

15th January 2024

Read more

The reality of delivering net zero is that we need solutions tailored to specific areas. Peter Gudde explores models that local authorities could adopt

15th January 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close